Police want to charge blogger with witness intimidation for posting BPD PR worker's work number

Carlos Miller, who runs a Web site about the public's right to take photos in public, faces a hearing in Roxbury District Court tomorrow in which police will attempt to have him charged with the felony offense of witness intimidation for an incident stemming from a video showing a police sergeant getting in the face of somebody else videoing an arrest in August.

Meanwhile, a Northeastern student who faces a wiretapping charge for videoing a Boston cop arresting him during a post World-Series confrontation has yet to be arraigned, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office says.

Miller wrote about the video in August, after which a Florida student who reads the site called the BPD public-affairs number and spokes to a secretary in that office. He recorded the conversation on his iPad, then posted part of it on YouTube - which led to a possible wiretapping charge against him because the secretary claims she didn't know she was being recorded; the student claims he told her he was recording.

Miller then posted about that last week - and suggested his readers start calling the woman, at her work number and ask her to drop the charges because somebody who works in a PR office should know anything she says should be considered public.

And that led to Detective Moore filing a criminal complaint against me for witness intimidation, which I received Friday and is posted below, claiming that I caused [Angelene] Richardson all kinds of pain and grief because I posted her publicly available work contact info on my blog.

If a clerk-magistrate agrees with police and formally charges Miller, he could face up to ten years in prison if found guilty at trial. The hearing is being held in Roxbury District Court because BPD headquarters is on Tremont Street in Roxbury.

In the Northeastern case, authorities have yet to name the student who allegedly "refused to follow Boston Police officers’ orders to leave the area of Kenmore Square and recorded the confrontation on his cell phone." However, the Huntington News talked to the student, Tyler Welsh, who gave his side of the story.

Last year, BPD agreed to pay a local lawyer $170,000 to settle his lawsuit over the way he was arrested for photographing an arrest on Boston Common.

Topics: 

Comments

Intimidation?!?

By on

his readers start calling the woman, at her work number and ask her to drop the charges(emphasis added)

In a word, yes.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Intimidation?

Or right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Really?

Encouraging the public to contact, in her official capacity, using her official government contact information, a government official whose job includes public relations, is somehow not legitimate?

up
Voting is closed. 0

When you request that the public

By on

contact a person to convince them to drop crminal charges, yes that is not legitimate.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Sounds like the city will be

By on

Sounds like the city will be shelling out to settle another lawsuit. Maybe this time they'll actually follow through with the promise to train officers that being recorded in public is not a violation of the wiretap law.

up
Voting is closed. 0

depends

If in the case of the Northeastern student, they are charging him in relation to not leaving the area when ordered to, they will be fine. He can be charged as Disorderly Person.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Sure, but I'm just referring

By on

Sure, but I'm just referring to the wiretapping charge, which is the only one specifically mentioned in Adam's summary for the Northeastern student.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Who files the charge?

By on

Adam, is it true BPD detectives don't ultimately decide what crimes people are charged with,in fact the District Attorney does? If so, every single change listed above is a case Suffolk County DA Dan Conley wants to make on behalf of the people of Boston, which I find troublesome.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I am not a lawyer ...

By on

So take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt (anybody who is involved in the criminal-justice system, please jump in to correct me):

You're right - the police don't ultimately decide what a person is charged with in court - or even if they're charged at all. The DA's office can file charges based on what police tell them, a grand jury can indict somebody on charges based on what the DA's office presents to them and a clerk magistrate can decide whether to bring charges based on what police tell him or her. I'll admit that, in this case, I don't have a clue as to why police are going before a clerk magistrate rather than to the DA's office, but I'm sure there's somebody out there who does.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Very generally, police bring

By on

Very generally, police bring cases by a) making arrests based on probable cause or b) presenting evidence that establishes probable cause to a clerk magistrate, leading to a criminal complaint in a district court for which a defendant is usually summonsed in. A clerk can decline to issue a complaint if he/she feels there isn't probable cause to support one, and a judge can dismiss a complaint after it issues.

Prosecutors bring cases by introducing evidence to a grand jury and obtaining an indictment, which initiates a case in a superior court. The grand jury can also decline to indict a case, and a judge can dismiss an indictment after it's been returned.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Generally

The clerk's magistrate hearing, which is to show cause, is a lighter approach than say issuing a warrant and arresting the person. In smaller matters, you issue a summons and go from there. A kinder gentler approach, rather than cuffs and a booking.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Way to go BPD

By on

The city is safer and the trust in our police force is bolstered.

Promotions all around!

up
Voting is closed. 0

This guy seems like

By on

An annoying dweeb! How would any of you feel if this guy started filming and harassing you while you're at work. I for one you punch his square between his narrow eyes.

up
Voting is closed. 0

How's that working out for you?

By on

The internet tough guy act?

If you work in public, you can be photographed and recorded all day long. Don't like it? That's too bad because it's perfectly legal. Assault, no so much...

up
Voting is closed. 0

Say what?

By on

I for one you punch his square between his narrow eyes.

Sounds like you've taken quite a few hits to the noggin, yourself.

up
Voting is closed. 0

My boss bugs me all the time

By on

My boss bugs me all the time at work. It's his right, as he's paying me a salary to do a job for him. If taxpayers are paying you, you ought to be comfortable with some kind of oversight, either from taxpayers directly, or people they appoint/elect (like inspectors general) to do it for them.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Whether you agree with Miller

Whether you agree with Miller or not, he's a lost cause because he promotes the same sensationalist crap that is found on the right. At the end of the day I'd probably agree with him, but it gets lost in his lack of credibility.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Can you elaborate?

By on

What is this "sensationalist crap" you speak of and it's relationship to "the right"? Why does he lack credibility?

Standing up for the right to record and photograph police is a good thing.

up
Voting is closed. 0

As of lately

By on

The left is the one lacking credibility

up
Voting is closed. 0

Do Not Call List

Have Public Relations worker Angelene Richardson just put her work number on the Do Not Call List since it works so well for private citizens.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Now you're screwed

By on

Adam has obviously committed another fake felony by publishing this invitation to make a Public Relations officer relate to the public.

Angeline Richardson deserves some paid vacation for counseling for her life-threatening case of the vapors, with extra time for pearl-clutching.

And now that I've commented on this, it's clearly a conspiracy. RICO for all bloggers!

up
Voting is closed. 0

Headline a little misleading.....

The blogger isn't being charged for intimidation because he posted a number, he is being charged because he is encouraging others to call and ask the (person aware of information) to "drop" the charges.

Actually a textbook case for witness interference. The only term that a jury might have trouble is if the person was one of the following: (threatened, promised something, mislead, intimidated, or harassed.).

Does posting a online number(wouldn't matter if it were public) for a specific person be considered "harrassment"?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Here's the Problem

By on

The PR person isn't a witness. She has no role in the case.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Why

By on

Should a police official, speaking in an official capacity to a citizen regarding official business on a BPD work phone have any expectation of privacy?

What is it with Boston PD and their love of using our poorly drafted wiretapping laws to jack up people using BPD's own words against them?

This is reason number 1,495 that people distrust Boston police. Someone should explain the "Streisand Effect" to their PR department.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Because that is the law.

Go read it, and make sure to read all the case law which clearly supports the case for intimidation charges.

up
Voting is closed. 0

ITS THE LAAAWWWWW

By on

Bullshit Pete.

You know damn well they have discretion and that there was no "victim" here.

This is the blue wall trying to teach some uppity kids and a blogger a lesson about respecting their authority.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Why did you mention privacy then?

This law has nothing to do with privacy, it has to do with harassment, persuasion, power, and communication.

So can anyone just call a detective thousands of times asking to drop a charge if they don't agree with the charge?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Stop moving the goal posts Pete

By on

The wiretapping charge, which started this ridiculous mess, is baloney. As I mentioned, there is no expectation of privacy, thus wiretapping charges are bogus.

Had BPD not instigated a wiretapping charge, then none of this well deserved "harassment" would be taking place.

This whole thing makes the BPD look like bitchy little crybabies instead of professionals.

By the way, who is this "anyone" calling "thousands of times"? They don't exist. So tell me, what is the appropriate number of people that are allowed to call the BPD's public relations phone line?

up
Voting is closed. 0

The wiretapping charge is not baloney in this case.

In fact a New Hampshire jury just convicted someone on pretty much the exact same thing not too long ago. You just don't agree with it, and you are complaining about it.

And what is the appropriate number of people to call a witness in a case to persuade them to drop charges? Just one.

up
Voting is closed. 0

They left her in that job

By on

They left her in that job AFTER she became a witness to an alleged crime? You can't blame the folks who wanted to call the BPD's official contact for placing their call. I'd hit BPS with a contributory negligence defense and sue for damages.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Look Pete

By on

I know you are going to defend this regardless of how stupid it is.

Here's how this works:

- Cop gets butt hurt

- Cop gets person charged with a BS crime to teach that person a lesson.

- Person has to deal with arrest, spend $, etc.

- Charges get dropped because crime was BS in the first place.

- Person out $, time and sanity.

- Cop goes about his business.

- Total win for the cop.

We all know this and you do to.

The wiretapping case will get thrown out because it's simply the desk cops word against the kid about whether he informed her about the recording. He will argue that she consented to the recording and didn't activate the recorder until she consented, so he would be within the law. She got upset she was on youtube and jammed him up. His word against hers. No way he gets convicted. There is absolutely no upside for the BPD to pursue this case other than intimidation and retribution. Yes it's THE LAW, but what you can't seem to grasp is the BPD is making a fool of itself on a national scale.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Oh really?

Can you explain the NH case where someone went to prison for 3 months for doing the exact same thing that Miller encouraged others to do?

He will argue that she consented to the recording and didn't activate the recorder until she consented, so he would be within the law.

You can't be that naïve.

This has nothing to do with the original videotaping in public case. This would be like Gilk calling up the officers who arrested him and threatening a lawsuit if they didn't drop the charges. Gilk didn't do that. If he did, he would have probably been charged with the same offense as Miller was and most likely convicted.

I don't think you understand this concept. Just because you might be innocent of a charge, it doesn't give you the right to commit other secondary public order offense like perjury, witness intimidation or harassment.

If the BPD doesn't do this, it gives other criminals the green light to call/harass/annoy/persuade other public officials for issues that they don't think are just.

I never argued the public opinion aspect, you just brought that up for some reason. That wasn't my point.

up
Voting is closed. 0

You are not worth my time

By on

as you can't seem to debate this in good faith.

I never said jack about the videotaping.

This is twice you have attempted to shift the discussion.

You are a perfect example of why middle class people have disdain for the police. You think it's just peachy that the BPD is trying to make a FELON out of someone over a he said / she said issue during a phone call discussing official business. This kid did nothing wrong. It's just as likely the secretary is lying about consenting to the recording to cover her ass as the kid lying to cover his. This is a huge waste of time, money and good faith by the BPD.

Your point is that the BPD has every right to bring the full force of the law against people that annoy them. Duly noted.

up
Voting is closed. 0

You are the one shifting the discussion.

If you want to talk about the breakdown of the discussion, look where you jump in and where and how you respond to my points.

My ENTIRE point here has to do with the fact that legally, the police might have a good case for wiretapping, as the elements of the law, and surrounding case law back them up on the wiretapping charge. The police probably don't have the case law or elements of law to support a wiretapping charge on the original NU student charge.

You think they did nothing wrong. It doesn't matter what you think, it matters what a judge or jury thinks in regards to the law being broken. Some people think you shouldn't need a license to drive a car. Some people think people shouldn't have the right to tape the police in public. Those people would be wrong, since there are laws on the books (or case law) which support these people. There are no laws which support your position.

As for your "debating in good faith" argument, it is you which keeps bringing up points that I never even mentioned. Public opinion of the BPD has nothing to do with anything I said. You are the one who brought that one up.

up
Voting is closed. 0

BPD dropped the charges

By on

against Miller and the kid accused of wiretapping the phone call.

Apparently someone smarter than you at BPD finally figured out what a mess they were making.

Good job defending this fiasco.

up
Voting is closed. 0

It is people like you and Miller who make lawyers money.....

My only point ever was about how the charges would stand in a court of law, and I stand by that statement. If it was such a mess, the BPD would be getting sued (like the Gilk case), but in this case they actually had the law on their side.

Hey, it looks like Miller made some money off this after all (pocketing the $2,500) from donors to his cause. I admire guys like him and Alex Jones for living the American Dream!

(I'll post this on the newer thread to make it more fresh if you want to actually argue the legal points, and not what you want the issue to be which is who is winning on the internet)

up
Voting is closed. 0

Ok

So who should the public call to register their disagreement? I would have thought the public relations line was the proper channel. Is there an office I don't know about?

up
Voting is closed. 0

This sounds like more than registering disagreements.....

Maybe we can call or email Richardson to persuade her to drop the charges against Hardy considering she should assume all her conversations with reporters are on the record unless otherwise stated. Her listed number is (617) 343-4520.

That was the request. I mean, this is kind of a different situation since the PR office is the actual victim. So there are several factors with the above "request" by Miller.

-Miller doesn't seem malicious in his attempt to get people to persuade Richardson to drop the charges. He is open and public about his request for others to "persuade" Richardson to drop the charges.

-Miller is from another state and might not realize that what he is doing might be against the law.

-The "harassment" may just be phone calls and don't appear to be violent threats, and as I mention above, the request isn't a violent one.

-Miller used Richardson's actual line, not the general number. And the request was for people to ask Richardson to drop the charges, not to register their disapproval with the whole incident.

-Miller actually used the word "persuade" for an action to drop charges.

-People did in fact call Richardson and may have threatened her or harassed her

up
Voting is closed. 0

Acting Police Commissioner

By on

District Attorney's Office, maybe (and this is a stretch) the actual spokesperson, Cheryl Fiandaca, perhaps His Honor Thomas M. Menino.

In short, anyone who might not be a witness in the case.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Entrapment

By on

I wonder if this could be seen as entrapment.

Unnamed police officers make spurious charges against Northeastern student Tyler Welch for videotaping them in public. These will be thrown out, because they're clearly illegal. (Being a dick to the police, now if that were a crime he'd be dead to rights. But the lack of such a law is a gap that folks like fat blueshirt guy are trying desperately to fill.)

Miller writes about this abuse of the law, no charges filed.

Fourth party, Florida student Taylor Hardy contacts BPD PR, records the conversation, and is charged spuriously with wiretapping.

Miller writes about that and encourages random folks to contact BPD PR, and is then charged with witness intimidation - that is, intimidating the witness to spurious charges of wiretapping.

But there would be no possible witness intimidation without a chain of spurious charges and official misbehavior. Angeline Richardson is only a witness to a crime she made up.

Is this the new entrapment trick? Police officers and/or representatives misbehave, get caught on video, and then misuse official channels to charge those who bring their misbehavior to light with further fake crimes? No, wait, that was the old trick.

It'd be nice to see BPD clean house and throw out dirty cops who bring spurious charges. Angelene Richardson and Nick Moore are the ones who should be facing charges.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Miller's entrapping the BPD

By on

I don't see how the BPD arrests the NU kid on bogus charges (which they are) on the assumption that someone will call the public relations department, record the conversation, then have the part of the recording where the mutual consent was given, then post the rest, which will lead to charges against that person, then lead another party, their actual target, to locate on the internet and post the direct dial number of the person in PR, thus opening him up to a charge of intimidation. To be able to manipulate people like that would be amazing, though improbable.

I don't think what I am spelling out below is true, but let's try it-
So, Miller is upset with the BPD's heavy handed tactics towards citizen journalists. He finds a case, then reports on it. He asks someone to call the BPD's media department and record a conversation about the arrest, making sure get her name but not her consent. After posting the audio, the kid gets a warrant for recording without consent in a dual consent state. Good, now he can strike. He tracks down the media person's desk phone number, rather than the more easily obtainable media department number, and has people call her to "convince" her to make the charges go away. Of course, she gets harassed which leads to charges against Miller himself, making him a martyr in a case he started out having little to do with. Therefore, he has entrapped the BPD like in a game of chess, unlike the game of chance described above.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Yes, she's a witness.

By on

Yes, she's a witness.

There are now three different events here:

1. The original event in which someone was videotaping police officers making an arrest, and was harassed by the officers to stop filming or move far enough away until he couldn't film anything useful.
2. When that video went viral, someone decided to call up the police department PR number, and ask about the above case. The person who answered was unable to answer any questions about it with any particularly useful information. He recorded this, and posted it on Youtube, though he didn't get the beginning of the call. He claims that he informed her that the call was being recorded during the beginning of the call which did not get recorded; she claims he did not. The police are trying to prosecute him under wiretapping charges for having recorded the phone call secretly.
3. Now a blogger posts about this, and asks that people call up the BPD PR number to ask them to drop the charges. This means calling up the main prosecution witness in case #2 and asking her not to testify in that case.

All in all, as The Dude says "no, Walter, you're not wrong, you're just an asshole." Boston cops are harassing and intimidating citizens into not recording them, when there has been clear precedent that openly filming their behavior in public is legal and protected by the first amendment; the only way to violate the wiretapping law is secret recording. So the PINAC blogger is correct that this continuing harassment of people practicing their civil rights is an issue that needs to be addressed.

In case #2, however, there is an actual point of contention that the recording was secret; there is no clear evidence available to the public that shows that she was informed of the recording, just the word of the guy who recorded her against her word. In case #3, while I may agree that it's ridiculous that Boston cops are continuing to try to suppress people recording them in public, intimidating the key witness in a case is not the right way to protest this. He's right that the cops behavior in case #1 is reprehensible; and if you can show that the recording in case #2 was with her knowledge, then sure, it doesn't violate the wiretapping law and instead sounds like a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation).

If anyone's interested in this, how about rather than harassing the police department and escalating the confrontation, we call up our freshly elected or re-elected city councilors and mayor, and ask them to see if they can do anything to rein in the police department on their harassment of people openly recording them in public? It sounds like the police department needs to write up new guidelines and do new training on citizens right to record, and our city council and mayor can put pressure on them to do so if they refuse.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Three different things

By on

1. The kid who took the original video should have not been charged. That's been established. The law is being wrongly enforced.

2. The kid who posted the phone conversation on the Internet is in the wrong. He'd do best to plead, apologize, and take probation or a continuance or whatever. The evidence is that he taped the woman, who is likely some flack (I have no connection to the BPD and don't know the woman, but I know that the Channel 5 lady is the BPD spokesperson). The claim is that he got her permission, but surprise surprise, that part of the audio got destroyed.

3. This is the tough one. Miller claims that he posted her "listed number", but the "list" is a series of contacts from the MLK Summer Scholars program, not an official BPD or City of Boston source. He googled her. It's kind of stalking. Then he posted her number. If every call was reasonable, that's fine, but he didn't asked for reason. The blog, for it's points, is not predicated on reasonable discussion. The flack is a witness in a case, and she didn't technically file the original charges, so it would seem the only thing she could do is to not testify. She's being asked to stop the case, so yeah, I see the point. Like #2, a contrite voice could end this, but it won't happen.

up
Voting is closed. 0

The number is the main number

By on

I need to kind of walk that back. I thought it was something special since, rather than linking to the link you did, Miller linked to some odd documents, making me think it was a desk phone.

Still, when it comes to the third thing, having people call her to tell her to drop the charges is intimidation. If I filed charges against someone and people started calling me at work (assuming the charges involved me at work), I would totally view that as intimidation. As a third party, I say that the flack is not the person to talk to about this, but I wrote about that before.

up
Voting is closed. 0